(WSVN) - Miami-Dade County has changed the way it runs the bus system. But some riders say it hurts more than it helps.
Karen Hensel has tonight’s 7 Investigates.
She shares a name with an icon; Barbara Walters.
Barbara Walters/transit activist: “I’m not a ghost.”
This Barbara Walters says she may not be known for hard-hitting interviews, but she is known for something.
Barbara Walters: “I have not owned a car in about 30 years. I’ve become a very strong advocate for public transportation. I can really say it’s my contribution to the environment.”
But changes in the Miami-Dade bus system have created a huge bump in the road for Barbara.
Barbara Walters: “I went to the bus stop and I see the sign on the bus that as of the 13th of November, no more bus service at that area.”
The county rolled out its “Better Bus Network” in November.
At least 1,200 bus stops were eliminated.
Barbara’s usual stop, which was just a few blocks away from her Kendall home, was one of them.
Now, her closest bus stop is more than a 30-minute walk, and at 79 years old, that walk every day would be impossible.
Barbara Walters: “It’s like, wait a minute, I’m going to walk 22 blocks or pay $7 to take Lyft from 97th and 88th home?”
So she turned to “Metro Connect,” the county’s on-demand ride service. It is supposed to pick you up and get you to your bus station.
But actually getting a ride, has not been easy.
Barbara Walters: “Then it says we’re currently experiencing very high volume, all our seats are filled, please try again. What the?”
So she called once.
Barbara Walters: “So, 10:12? OK.”
Barbara Walters: “So you’re telling me, what did you say, 10:36?”
And finally, her ride showed up.
Barbara Walters: “Metro Connect cannot meet the demands.”
The goal of the Better Bus Network was to improve access and wait times for riders. But 7 Investigates found many who say it has created big problems for them.
Rhett Ennis/bus rider: “It hasn’t been a better system. It’s been worse.”
Maurice Byrd/bus rider: “I gotta get up an hour earlier now to go to work because the buses is much crowded and it ain’t too much room on the buses.”
Emily Norton: “Some stops have made it a little bit harder for me to get to work on time and stuff because they changed the bus stops.”
Miami-Dade Transit tells us they “…anticipated some confusion and frustration among riders, and it is completely understandable.”
But when we specifically asked about complaints of bus stops being too far away and Metro Connect cars not being available, they did not answer our questions.
Barbara Walters: “When you’ve got a situation where we only had one bus to depend on and they’ve taken that away from us. I think there should have been more input from the riding public.”
The county continues to meet with the community about the new system, but tells us no changes will be made until next April.
Barbara Walters says they are not done hearing from her.
Karen Hensel 7News.
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